Computer - it computes; it is an electronic platform for software engineers to exploit; that stupid thing that you want to punch but you use it every day; they are just too stupid to know what you are talking about, not one word.
Googol - 10^100
Google - A computer system, supplemented by human labor, to make a better search engine. They use humans to make up for the limitations of computers, humans make the search results seem intelligent.
Deep Blue - an IBM chess program, run on a computer, that beat a human chess champion, Garry Kasparov.
Artificial Intelligence - The theory that a computer can be made intelligent, and that a human can define the word intelligence suitably.
Watson - IBM’s latest promo sensation, a Jeopardy program running on a custom IBM computer, built to retrieve information quickly from vast collections. They say it is not connected to the Internet, but they do have copies of Wikipedia and other Web sites on it.
On the web yesterday, I saw a spider, man that was fascinating.
The apple was juicy, sweet, crisp, and delicious.
A computer understanding language like that, would be like a cloud, a brick, a coin, a rock, understanding it! Some people think that ants, bacteria, and viruses are alive, and do any of them understand culture? How could a inanimate computer understand, when some lifeforms have no chance of understanding? At least a dog can pick up a few words. It might be possible for a software engineer to do to a computer, but Watson? Sentences like that require human experience to put them in context. What web? A real spider web, or a video of a spider web, or the grand computer revolution that changing the culture? How could a computer put a word like that in context, a computer that is not aware of human culture and the changes happening within it?
Sure if Watson can come up with some coherent answers to Jeopardy questions in a few seconds, that looks good, but I think it is more of a cloak of understanding, than it is real understanding of culture and language. I think Watson amounts to a fancy text search of Wiki and other web sites, that they have made it compete on Jeopardy is a great achievement for that technique, but intelligence or cultural awareness?
Take the Final Jeopardy question last night: “In this 1930s movie, one character tries to quote the Pythagorean theorum and fails.”
Think about how a computer would systematically go about answering that! It would have to have the script of every movie made in the 30s, run through each one looking for a line that looks like the Pythagorean theorum but isn’t! I doubt that even Data could do that in less that 30 seconds! But if you’re a human being, familiar with the movie in question, it just pops out at you, doesn’t it? (like it did for me)
Well, you would have pressed the buzzer before me, but when you prompted me, I had to think for a second then recalled it, even without a diploma from the university of thinkology.
It was the Final Jeopardy question, so you wouldn’t have had to buzz in. What makes the whole topic of artificial intelligence fascinating to me is that sometimes I can follow the chain of reasoning I used in coming up with the answer, but in this case I HAVE NO IDEA how I got it! One second I was thinking, “Oh geez, how can anyone possibly know that…?” and then BAM! there it was! And only one of the three contestants got it, either!
It was a hugely disappointing game, because I was hoping to learn more about how it went about reading the questions. Apparently it simply pounced on a “key word” (although how it picked it’s key words was left unclear). Once in a while, you could see it make a mistake by picking the wrong key word—answering “Picasso” instead of “Modern Art”, for example. But if you noticed, most of the questions were pretty straightforward. “This condition, also known as Hansen’s disease…” gosh, all the machine had to do was look up Hansen’s disease! So the only reason it won was because it had a roomful of servers operating a hundred times faster than its human opponents. Big woop!